8 Ways to Advance Racial Justice in the Design Industry

The design industry lacks the rich diversity represented in the American population, and we believe it’s time for that to change. As a studio with creatives in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, we’re committed to integrating the voices, skills, and perspectives that have been consistently underrepresented in the field. With humility and strength, we take our first steps forward — and we encourage you to join us.

These are the actions we’ll take:

1. Encourage open forums for sharing meaningful resources with each other, including books, articles, films, and podcasts — as well as info about local protests and organizations to donate to. Invite all voices to the table, and welcome everyone to share their perspectives and experiences. Provide personal time for learning, integration, and rest, too, trusting that all employees are doing the work to educate themselves and that no two processes look and feel the same.

2. Implement education and training on the individual and all-staff level. Introduce annual anti-bias training for all employees, as well as quarterly training for leadership.

3. Recruit and hire BIPOC. When in a position to hire, actively seek out Black candidates and demand that recruiters do the same. (Rapt is currently 69% women but only 14% BIPOC and 3% Black.)

4. Provide design mentorship, guidance, and education to middle-school and high-school students. Partner with organizations that engage underrepresented youth, inviting them to explore the world of design. Offer resources and connections so that they can begin to — or continue to — envision themselves with careers in the field.

5. Re-evaluate our design process from end-to-end. Examine each step we take — from initial project kick-offs to final site walks — in order to check biases and to identify blind spots and areas of opportunity.

6. Ensure diversity in representation at all project stages, when developing personas, user journey maps, renderings, and in final project photography.

7. Source from Black-owned collaborators and fabricators. Develop new relationships with Black makers, artists, photographers, and manufacturers. In addition, create a contact list to share as a resource for the design community.

8. Evaluate partnerships through the lens of shared values. Work with organizations who believe in what we believe in. Be willing to turn down business with those who are not actively anti-racist.

At Rapt, we acknowledge that we’re late to the fight — but from here forward, we vow to do better as a studio, and hopefully by extension as an industry. Join us.

Rapt Studio is a strategic design consultancy. www.raptstudio.com

Our sweet spot is at the intersection of place, experience, and emotion.